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Konerko Clobbering the Change

Paul Konerko was one of the best changeup hitters in the game last season, batting .324 and slugging .647 against it.  This is a fairly significant rise over his .212 average and .423 slugging percentage off changeups from 2008 to 2009.  What's most interesting is the shift in his power zones on changeups.

Paul Konerko vs. Changeups
(Click to enlarge)

Prior to last season, Konerko was only producing power on outside changeups, and could do nothing against it on the inside half of the plate. However, he began to tee up on changeups coming inside in 2010.  Whether it came from a lefty or righty made no difference.  His high overall slugging percentage versus changeups was a result of a .654 SLG% off lefties and a .643 SLG% off righties throwing the pitch.

The increase in power was not without a drawback.  Konerko's strike out rate increased 7.5% on changeups.  Compare his 2010 SLG% heat map above with his contact rate below:

Paul Konerko vs. Changeups
(Click to enlarge)

While Konerko didn't make great contact on changeups dipping down in the zone, his slugging heat map indicates that the ones he did connect on, particularly inside, he made the most of.


Too Many Floyd Fastballs

Over the last three season, Gavin Floyd threw fastballs about half the time.  Unfortunately, the 92 MPH pitch is the least effective of his five offerings:


Gavin Floyd, 2008-2010
Opposition BattingFastballChange, Cutter, SliderCurve ball
Batting Average .306 .252 .137
On-Base .374 .311 .155
Slugging .503 .395 .192
wOBA .377 .309 .154


His curve is so effective because it moves a great deal more than expected both horizontally and vertically:

Gavin Floyd curve ball movement, 2008-2010.He can also put in anywhere in the strike zone.

Gavin Floyd curve ball location, 2008-2010.Floyd needs his fastball to set up his other pitches.  Those others are high quality enough that Gavin might want to pitch backwards sometimes, and use his cutter or change-up to set up the fastball.


Jered Weaver's Big Slider

Jered Weaver was very efficient at keeping batters off the bases last season.  His OBP against of .267 was the second best among all major league starters throwing a minimum 500 plate appearances.  Weaver's off speed pitches, specifically his slider, were a big part of his success.

Jered Weaver's Slider, 2010
(Click to enlarge)

Weaver's slider had more horizontal movement than any other right-handed major league slider last season.  It averaged 9.4 feet per second of right to left movement when crossing the plate, more than a half a foot of movement more than the next slider on the list.

When Weaver's slider averaged more than 8 feet per second of movement last year, batter's managed to hit only .207 and slug .269.  When it's movement dropped below 8 feet, batter's hit .250 and slugged .500.